Hillary Clinton's image is worse than at any point since 2008. That's the big takeaway from a new CNN/Opinion Research poll released late Monday. And it's true; 44 percent now have an unfavorable opinion of her -- the highest that has been since June 2008, shortly after Clinton conceded the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.
The new poll also has the distinction of having come just as Clinton's use of a private e-mail account during her time as secretary of state is at issue. Ipso facto, her e-mail controversy is the cause of her flagging numbers, right?
While these two events are temporally aligned, there is little reason to believe the e-mails have really moved numbers that much. Not only is the change from CNN's polling not statistically significant from two polls last year, it's also part of a long-term trend. Clinton's numbers have been declining for some time, and the shift in the latest poll is very much in line with what we would expect.
Here's how the steady progression looks:
The second number that people focused on in the new poll is the "honest and trustworthy" number. While 56 percent of people described Clinton thusly one year ago, it's down to 50 percent today.
A casualty of her e-mail problems? Perhaps. But that doesn't really explain why the percentage of people who say they would be proud to have her as president has risen over the same span. While it was 50 percent in March 2014, it's 57 percent today.
So while people see Clinton as less honest and trustworthy today, they also say they would be prouder to have her as president. Got all that?
We've been arguing for a while now on this blog that Clinton's numbers would continue to fall off their secretary of state highs. It was unsustainable for a politician who was so polarizing as a first lady and senator to continue to be so popular as she re-entered the political arena. Half the country was bound to love her, and half was bound to despise her.
Her e-mails might wind up expediting that process, but it was going to happen one way or another.